Thursday, December 18, 2008

Paul Weyrich (1942-2008)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Paul Weyrich, one of the leading figures of the conservative movement in America, the so-called "Robespierre of the Right," has died at the age of 66.

Given that he was a right-wing extremist, and given that I didn't know him personally, I have been trying all day to come up with something nice to say about him. And here it is -- let me quote Steve Benen:

In an age when some powerful conservative activists would occasionally trade principles for access, Weyrich took his ideology seriously, and refused to waver. This, to his credit, led him to help create a group called Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, which condemned the Bush administration's warrantless-surveillance program as an example of big government run amok.

Well, that's something. Like some other conservatives, Weyrich thought Bush went too far. No, he may not have been much of a civil libertarian, but I suppose he knew blatant Orwellian excess when he saw it.

Otherwise, there is no denying the mark Weyrich made on American conservatism. He was one of its giants.

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Back in January 2006, I wrote a post responding to Weyrich's claim that Canadians are "liberal and hedonistic," not to mention Marxist. Here's part of it:

As for Canada, we are liberal, as I've argued here and here. Is it hedonistic to value each and every human being, to respect gays and lesbians, to welcome immigrants from around the world, to encourage self-fulfillment and a healthy society through an appreciation of diversity, and to provide health care, education, and the basic necessities of life to all?

If so, then I'm a hedonist and proud of it. But it's not. It's liberalism. It's what we in Canada are all about. Even most of our conservatives respect and promote these fundamental liberal values.

Weyrich was wrong about Canada just as he was wrong about so much else. For today, though, I'll just leave it at that.

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